A former missionary believes God has given him a tool that will transform Africa.
Paul Schneider Jr., founder of Aid the Children in Newnan, Ga., says a natural sea mineral concentrate has shown "exciting" results in improving the health of HIV-positive children in Africa.
He said that after a three-month double-blind study in Kenya earlier this year, 60 percent of the AIDS-infected children given a liquid mineral called SeaBoost showed higher CD4 counts, which indicates the strength of a person's immune system and determines the stage of HIV. And the children, who also were given a more nutritious diet, showed no signs of the opportunistic diseases HIV can cause such as pneumonia or tuberculosis.
"These children who just three months earlier were sick, now they're playing around and running," Schneider said of the study that ran from December to March. "The pastor who helped us facilitate the study ... said it just made him cry because all these parents and guardians were coming up and saying, 'Look at my child. Look at my child,' because three months before they were so sick."
Children who did not show initial improvement were given additional nutritional supplements, and their overall health improved after six months, Schneider said.
Schneider, a Georgia prayer leader who with his wife spent 18 years as a missionary in Ghana, believes scientific studies that include the more expensive viral load tests will prove the effectiveness of the all-natural supplement.
"God has given us something here that I believe has the potential to literally change the continent and beyond," said Schneider, who is raising funds for additional clinical trials at his ministry's website.
"I believe we have something that will literally save Africa," he added.Â
The tests, to be conducted in two more phases and overseen by a South Africa-based AIDS researcher, are awaiting funding. The first phase, which will test 200 children over six months with some using a placebo, is estimated to cost more than $100,000. The next phase, which will expand the six-month test to include 1,000 to 2,000 children, is expected to require more than $1 million.
SeaBoost is made up of a sea mineral concentrate and an assortment of seven herbs that Schneider said give the body nutrients it often lacks.
The sea mineral concentrate was developed by the late Australian farmer Gerry Amena more than two decades ago initially for use on plants. The results on agriculture were so positive Amena began taking the natural, plant-based product himself and saw his severe back pain improve. He later claimed the sea mineral concentrate improved the health of people with HIV, but no scientific studies had ever been conducted.
Schneider became a U.S. distributor for Amena's product in 2003 and sold it primarily as a plant fertilizer. He later began praying about testing SeaBoost, a formula made for human consumption, on HIV-positive children in Africa, where AIDS infections are highest.
A meeting with charismatic minister Kathie Walters of Good News Fellowship Ministries in Macon, Ga., led him to pastor Simeon Kamadi Jumba, who partnered with Schneider last year to testthe supplement on 90 HIV-positive children at his. Delight Community Outreach Ministries in Kisumu, Kenya.
There is no independent research on SeaBoost to back up Schneider's claims of improved health, but he is encouraged by the results on children and some adults in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa and Ghana.
In Uganda, several children at an orphanage led by pastor Joseph Mayega were given the SeaBoost liquid, which is mixed in juice or food because of its harsh taste. The ministry reported that all the children saw improvements.
One child's CD4 count increased from 83 to 125 after he began taking the product. Two other children, ages 13 and 14, saw their counts increase from 130 to 160 and 145, the ministry said.
Despite the increases, counts under 200 still indicate full-blown AIDS. Yet Schneider said the SeaBoost is improving the children's quality of life, and he believes their CD4 levels will continue to rise with ongoing use.
Kenyan pastor Jumba said government officials who helped oversee the study were amazed at the results. "The wonder of what happened to these children up to today is an amazement in the villages where these children come from," Jumba said in a video interview with Schneider.
"The government officials, the lab technologists who were taking the samples for testing, after the test they looked at them and they were wondering, What has become of them?" he added. "Because ... they try nutrition, they try antiretrovirals and [the result] hasn't been like what the SeaBoost has produced."
Schneider said the product has shown positive results in adults, but his ministry is focusing on children, many of whom contracted the virus from their mothers.
"A lot of the adults are involved in fornication or who knows what, but these children are just victims, and our heart just goes out to them," he said. "We have made the product available to adults, but that's not our primary focus."
He said the SeaBoost has not shown much impact on cancer and other diseases, but it has not harmed anyone's health either. In areas where access to AIDS medication is limited, he believes the low-cost supplement can be a Godsend. Of the 90 children involved in the Kenya study, only two were on antiretrovirals, which can cost hundreds of dollars a year.
"What we're doing is completely natural; there are no adverse side effects," Schneider said. "We believe it is a long-term solution because we're seeing [CD4] numbers consistently increasing."
A letter posted on Aid the Children's website that is signed by the district commissioner of Kenya's Vihiga region said the project needs to be expanded to include more children.
"Given the overwhelming results, there is the need to put more children on this product," the letter stated. "We appeal as a government for more resource to be availed into this project as we would ensure there is proper supervisory mechanism put in place to ensure maximum benefit to the community."
In addition to the SeaBoost, Schneider is giving the children food and clothing. Through its "Gideon's Army" campaign, Aid the Children hopes to get 300 people to sponsor a child for $60 a month.
"Sixty dollars a child and it just totally turns their lives around," he said. "We're able to give them nutrition. And we're able to give them this [SeaBoost], and it just saves the life of a child, and that's what it's about."
Brant Frost IV, president of First Liberty Building and Loan in Newnan, helped fund the initial SeaBoost study in Kenya. He has seen nutrition-based remedies help improve cancer, diabetes and other illnesses and believes Schneider is on to a solution to the AIDS pandemic that will ultimately bring glory to God.
"Paul has a real passion for the children of Africa," Frost said. "I believe he is on to an all-natural, no side-effect, low-cost, high-impact solution. And the best part is, Jesus and the church will get all the credit."
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